Maggie Goldsmith died peacefully in her sleep September 26, 2013 at her lake cottage outside Ithaca, New York, after a brief illness. Born Margaret Jane Poynter in San Francisco April 8, 1941, to Josephine Thompson and William Frank Poynter, Maggie moved to Ithaca in 1963, immediately upon her marriage to William Goldsmith. Maggie and Bill celebrated their 50th anniversary in August. Maggie is known to Ithacans through her work as a teacher, theatre director, tutor, backpacking leader, literacy volunteer, chorus singer, and children's advocate. She taught English and theatre, first at Boynton Middle School and then for many years at the Alternative Community School (LACS). After retirement she devoted herself to temporary teaching, and tutoring, especially with troubled and incarcerated youth. Maggie and her family lived often outside Ithaca: in Puerto Rico, Colombia, Brazil, and Berkeley, California. She helped her children go to schools speaking Spanish and Portuguese. Later, she lived four times with Bill in Rome. But always, Maggie and Bill and their family returned to Ithaca. Like so many of her friends in Ithaca, Maggie spent a lot of time being a student. After graduation from George Washington High School in San Francisco, Maggie earned a B.A. in English and Theatre at the University of California, Berkeley, an M.A. in Teaching at Cornell, and later a Ph.D. in Theatre and English Literature, also from Cornell. Maggie had many and wonderful interests. She knew that all children have great potential, so with her they wrote, directed, acted, and did lighting, props, and costumes for impossibly ambitious theatrical productions. She never turned a student away, so year after year dozens of cast members thrilled large audiences. During ACS Trips Week each year, Maggie took reluctant teenagers along with eager ones to carry heavy backpacks up steep forest trails, camp out in the rain, cook the food they had carried, and return safe and sound to tell tall tales. Maggie's smile captured students, but when necessary just a look or question from her got them in line -- and she taught them to read and write. Maggie was a legendary cook and seamstress. She sketched lovely portraits and scenes, wrote poetry, and played the recorder. She was a rare beauty. She was a wonder.
Maggie leaves behind her boyfriend and husband Bill, who knew her for 56 years; three children, Theresa Goldsmith, Ana Goldsmith and her partner Charles Irvin, and Nicholas Goldsmith and his wife Vivian Goldsmith; four grandchildren, Sequoya Lee, Kyleigh Goldsmith, Henry Goldsmith, and Kyo Irvin; three brothers, Daniel, James, and Andrew Poynter; step-mother Helengrace Poynter; sister-in-law Martha Schwartz and her husband David Schwartz; and a raft of cousins, mostly from the Thompson clan in San Francisco; and in Ithaca, cousins, Catherine Porter and Phillip Lewis.
A celebration of Maggie's life will be held Sunday October 13 at 2:00 p.m., at the First Unitarian Society of Ithaca, located at the corner of Buffalo and Aurora Streets.
Contributions in lieu of flowers, if desired, may be made in Maggie's memory to the Kitchen Theatre, the Hangar Theatre, Tompkins Learning Partners, or to the Ithaca Community Choruses.